Ever fantasize about owning an ultra high-tech wristwatch? You’ll love the so-called Dick Tracy watch being developed by HP for the US military. The watch features flexible solar panels designed by PowerFilm, an ultra-light plastic screen, and a display that offers handy maps and strategic information for soldiers.

But why a plastic screen instead of, say, glass? The display is thin, low power, uses 40% less raw material than a glass display, and can take a beating. Millions of small flexible plastic displays are already found in watches, memory sticks, and more, but HP hopes that the technology will be available for everything from e-readers to computers soon enough — and it will be cheap. The company is working on making the production process as easy as commercial paper printing. And once that happens, just imagine how much easier it will be to facilitate the spread of computers around the world.

+ HP